Revealed: The truth about Barclays and the Abu Dhabi investment

Clive Horwood, Eric Ellis
Published on:

Amanda Staveley earned an astonishing £30 million fee for her role in helping to secure Abu Dhabi’s £3.5 billion investment in Barclays in 2008, a deal on which Sheikh Mansour made a profit of more than £3 billion. Euromoney reveals the extraordinary tale behind that trade, the battle for £110 million in fees paid by Barclays to Mansour, and just how close-run a deal which saved the bank from part-nationalization was – which is currently the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Lunchtime on April 30 2009, and Amanda Staveley’s private banker on the Isle of Man has just emailed her with confirmation that a sum of £29.5 million ($45.7 million) has been deposited into her account.

The note from Douglas might have provided a bitter-sweet moment for the Dubai-based Staveley, the Yorkshire-born dealmaker building a reputation gladhanding high-octane deals in the Gulf, after a hectic few months helping arrange one of the defining transactions of the 2008 global financial crisis: Abu Dhabi’s £3.5 billion investment in Barclays Bank six months earlier.

Sweet because she had finally received a commission for the Barclays deal that she’d been sweating on Gulf potentates paying for a long time.

But bitter because the amount received was some way short of what she’d initially hoped to garner for her role in the Barclays rescue, a deal dubbed 'Project Mandolin'.

The disclosure of the fees paid to Staveley and her firm PCP Capital Partners – revealed in a dossier of documents relating to the transaction and seen by Euromoney – will also stir mixed emotions among Barclays shareholders.

At the time of the capital raising, many were up in arms at the highly generous terms offered not just to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi royal and UAE deputy prime minister, whose participation Staveley had helped arrange, but also to Qatar Holdings, one of neighbouring Qatar’s sovereign wealth funds.

Euromoney’s disclosures cast the first light on what happened to the £110 million in fees paid by Barclays – and its shareholders – nominally to Sheikh Mansour, but in reality to a cast of advisers, associates and family members, of which Staveley was a big beneficiary.

The documents seen by Euromoney – a collection of business exchanges, and emails written or sent by Staveley, her colleagues and her contacts from 2008 to 2009 – also show how public disclosures about the Mansour investment masked the realities of how close run the deal was, and how complex – and arguably misleading – the nature of the capital injection from Abu Dhabi was.

They provide a fascinating insight into how the west meets the Middle East when it comes to doing business for eye-watering sums of money, as well as how frantic attempts to secure the money for the Barclays investment were, pulling in a range of some of the biggest names in the financial markets, from the US to China.

The entire round of capital raisings by Barclays in 2008 – first a £4.5 billion injection in June by existing shareholders, principal among them the Qatar Investment Authority and Challenger, an entity representing Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, followed by the £7.3 billion injection by Mansour and the Qataris in November – have been shrouded in rumour, mystery, intrigue and speculation.

They are also the subject of investigation. Barclays has disclosed that the UK’s Financial Services Authority and Serious Fraud Office are looking into commercial agreements between Barclays and Qatari interests and if these were related to the two Barclays capital raisings in 2008.

There is also an investigation by the US Department of Justice and the US SEC into whether or not Barclays' relationships with third parties that assist Barclays to win or retain business are compliant with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Both investigations are cited in the independent review of Barclays written by Anthony Salz, a vice-chairman of Rothschild, published at the beginning of April this year.

The Barclays transaction was Amanda Staveley’s ticket to a £30 million fee and a place among the Middle East’s elite

In the review, Salz says that Barclays disclosed that “commissions, fees and expenses for the October/November capital raising amounted to £300 million, payable primarily to Qatar Holding, Challenger and HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan... In view of the continuing investigations into these capital raisings, we have not considered issues concerning the sufficiency of disclosure or the commercial arrangements.”

Barclays has already, and embarrassingly, been pulled up for the poor quality of its disclosure. When shareholders were given the chance to vote on the capital raising on November 24, they were told unequivocally that the investment was being made personally by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour himself. The following day, the small print of regulatory disclosures showed that the £3 billion injection was actually in the name of the International Petroleum Company (Ipic) of which Mansour is chairman. The 2008 annual report, published in 2009, continued to refer to Mansour as the owner of the stake.

Barclays says that it made amendments as soon as it was made aware of them, and that the annual report was a drafting error. But the bank was left with egg on its face when these errors were disclosed in a BBC Panorama documentary about Barclays in March this year.

In fact, the documents seen by Euromoney reveal that the nature of Mansour’s investment was much more complicated than the drafting error revealed, involving a series of shelf companies called PCP Gulf Invest 1, 2 and 3 first set up in Staveley’s name and that of her partner at PCP, Craig Eadie, that were then transferred into Abu Dhabi’s beneficial ownership. But not in Mansour’s name. The transfer was into the private company of his close colleague, Khadem Al-Qubaisi, the managing director of Ipic and one of the most prominent businessmen in the Gulf.